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NetFlix patents the DVD library

So NetFlix have patented their business method; that is, subscribing to video/DVD rentals — where instead of being charged per disc, you are charged a monthly fee and can keep the rentals indefinitely without late fees. Patent here. Now, NetFlix is a very cool service, I’ve really been enjoying it. But this patent is a bit nasty.

Think about it: what’s difficult about the NetFlix setup? Is it thinking up the concept for how the business works, as described in the patent?

Or is it executing the details, setting up efficient shipping infrastructure, tracking, billing, stock management etc., efficiently enough to make a profit?

Bad news for these companies, who are now infringing:

  • GameFly, which is the NetFlix model applied to games.
  • GreenCine, a more indie- and anime-oriented DVD site.

As one commenter on the /. story noted, ‘imagine if McDonalds had patented the drive-thru’.